Thursday, 28 August 2014

Mary Berry's Lemon Drizzle Cake

Since the return of one of my favourite TV programmes - The Great British Bake Off - I've had a craving to throw on my apron and dig out my cake tins. I thought I should make the most of what's left of summer by baking with one of my favourite summer flavours - lemon. And of course, to celebrate the return of GBBO I had to follow a Mary Berry recipe.

I've made this Lemon Drizzle traybake once before when I was away in university but as my oven was extremely temperamental it didn't turn out too well. I knew it would taste great though made in my kitchen at home. Its fairly quick, super easy and makes perfect Lemon Drizzle Cake.

You will need

For the cake:
225g of softened butter (leave at room temperature for at least an hour before starting)
225g of caster sugar
275g of self-raising flour
4 eggs
4 tablespoons of milk
2 level teaspoons of baking powder
Finely grated rind of 2 lemons

For the topping:
175g of granulated sugar
The juice of 2 lemons

Cake Tin:
1 square tray bake tin, greased and lined with baking paper (unless the tin is made of silicon, then no greasing or lining is required)

To begin set the oven to preheat at 160°C. Measure all the ingredients for the cake into a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric whisk until it is combined and smooth. It makes a fairly stiff batter so it is much easier to use an electric whisk than a wooden spoon. Pop the mixture into the tin, making sure the top is level and even, and place in the oven for 35-40 minutes until the cake is starting to shrink away from the sides and a skewer comes out clean.

Leave in the tin to cool for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. I find the easiest way to turn it out and prevent the top from getting indents from the wire rack is to grab a large plate with a rim as flat as possible. Place the plate over the tin and flip, carefully encouraging the cake out of the tin. The cake should be upside down on the plate. Now put the wire rack on top of the cake and flip again. Ta-dah! The cake is now the right way up to cool.

While the cake is cooling make the topping. This is a crunchy topping rather than an icing, which I think goes very nicely. It adds a nice texture alongside the moist cake. In a bowl mix together the granulated sugar with the lemon juice to form a runny paste. Spoon the topping all over the cake while still warm, making sure its perfectly even. It will drip over the sides so place the wire rack over a tray to catch the topping. Leave to cool completely before cutting into squares.

I cut it into 25 squares. Big enough for a sugar/cake/lemon craving and small enough to not feel guilty having two!

If you fancy looking at the recipe on Mary Berry's website click here.

Perfect for a rainy August afternoon, sat on the sofa with a book and a cup of tea.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Current Obsession: Metcalfe's Skinny Topcorn in Sweet 'n Salt

I thought I would start a series of posts on my current obsessions, which will include products, meals, ingredients etc. To begin with I have to talk about something which I have been reaching for nearly everyday for the last month or so. Metcalfe's Skinny Topcorn.

I think this is amazing stuff. Tasty, sweet and salty enough to satisfy any craving and fairly healthy - what more could you want?! I really like the popcorn in Graze boxes and when I was looking for some healthy-ish snacks to take to Wimbledon with me in June I thought I'd check out what healthy popcorn was available in Sainsbury's. I spotted the pack of 6 individual bags of this Metcalfe's Topcorn and thought I'd give it ago. I love this so much I haven't even considered trying out any other brands.

The multi-pack of individual bags is great because (as it says on the front of the bags) its perfect for lunchboxes or handbags. I often get quite hungry when out and about so I love throwing one of these into my bag when I'm going to be out for several hours in case I get peckish - and at 78 calories per bag it is not something to feel guilty about later! They also make big bags, with 3 portions in, which is great for having in the house as something to munch on when watching TV etc.

This popcorn has a great flavour. Each piece is sweet and salty, which I love because recently I've been a bit obsessed with mixing sweet and salty flavours. I didn't expect it to be so packed with flavour because of how little calories are in each portion. There are only 4 ingredients - popped corn, vegetable oil, sugar and salt. They have other flavours but right now I'm too obsessed with this to try the others. Its also gluten free and suitable for vegetarians.

This is a great low fat snack that tastes a lot more indulgent than it is, it doesn't leave your fingers greasy and is perfect for loads of occasions. If you're looking for an alternative to crisps or chocolate for a go-to snack when out and about or at home, give this a try!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Places in Norwich worth trying out

Everywhere we ate in Norwich was really nice. I don't know what it is and why there aren't more places that serve really good food in Cardiff but Norwich is obviously a place to go if you're a bit of a foodie.


One day when we were looking for somewhere for lunch in the independent quarter we stumbled across Mustard. It was a simple little café that served sandwiches or jacket potatoes with old fashioned crockery that looked like it had been picked up at a car boot sale (in a good way). There was art for sale on the walls and there is a notebook on each table with pencils for customers to doodle or write in, and the owners will stick up their favourites in the café. It may not look particularly impressive but the café had a lovely homely feel and was perfect for a quick and tasty lunch.

I had a pot of tea and the ABC sandwich (avocado, bacon and chicken).

It was very reasonably priced and I really enjoyed my sandwich - the bacon was particularly good!


We were looking for somewhere to pop into one morning for a drink and a little bite to eat and decided to try out Roots. As it was such a sunny morning we sat out in the little courtyard, which was lovely and a great advantage Roots has compared with lots of other cafés with no outdoor seating.

They had a great selection of hot drinks and cakes. I plumped for a flat white (which was perfectly made) and a slice of orange and poppyseed cake.

It was one of the best cakes I've had in a very long time. It was pretty moist but it wasn't too gooey, and it was orangey without being overpowering. My mum had a slice of the Victoria Sandwich cake which was very nice too (I tried a bit). I think Roots are also open for lunch and dinner so if I ever venture back over to Norwich I would definitely check it out as I was so impressed with the coffee and cake I had there.

Grosvenor Fish Bar

These chips are without a doubt some of the best I have ever had. The ones photographed were sprinkled with some spicy salt. They were crispy, fluffy and very good value for money. There is nothing else to say about these chips other than if you are ever in Norwich, you NEED to go and get some of these.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

b'nou - Norwich City Centre

b'nou only opened a couple of months ago and its already made an impact. When we were looking on Tripadvisor for places to go we noticed b'nou was fourth and had 19 reviews, all of which were excellent, so we decided to check it out.

The restaurant is quite small and can probably only seat around 30 people (booking is essential!). It has a very homely feel to it and a lovely, relaxed atmosphere.

It all kicks off at 7:30. There are no menus, but a selection of tapas-type dishes that changes each night. One by one, each dish is brought round to all of the tables. Each dish costs £4 and if you decide to have one the hosts stamp a little card so they know how much to charge you at the end. Although they're small little plates, one between 2 or 3 works out well because there's lots to try. When we went, there were 13 savoury dishes and 3 desserts available and between the 4 of us we had 19 dishes. It was great to share lots of really tasty food and be able to try a lot of different things in one meal. Also because there's enough time to eat in between the next dish coming round you don't get too full.

All the food was delicious. Simple combinations executed flawlessly. When we were chatting to one of the owners he said they had lived in Spain for the last 5 years, which shows as the food is clearly influenced by Spanish cooking. He also said that the meat is all free-range, the fish is fresh on that day and the fruit and vegetables are locally sourced. A lot of thought and care has obviously gone into b'nou and it really pays off.

Here's some pictures of some of the dishes we had and the sort of thing to expect if you ever go there.

Smoked mackerel paté.

Chorizo, butterbean and roasted pepper rocket salad.

Baked camembert. 

Paella with chorizo, bacon, cod and prawns.

Chicken drumsticks (I can't remember what they were marinaded in - I think it was lemon and honey).

Tortillas filled with spicy vegetables.

Three types of mushrooms in a creamy sauce (the picture does not do this justice -it was amazing).

Chicken (again I've forgotten the flavour of it) with couscous.

The desserts were incredible.

Lemon and lime panna cotta.

Chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream.

Berry compote with vanilla ice cream.

We had such a lovely evening. The concept of the restaurant made it an interesting and different meal out and if I lived in Norwich I would venture there regularly. The owners were so nice, worked hard to make sure the evening was a success and are clearly passionate about their fairly new restaurant. I have absolutely no negatives about b'nou and I really hope it continues to be as successful as it has been since it opened.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Pinocchio's Restaurant - Norwich City Centre

As mentioned in my last post, I went to Norwich for a mini-break with my family and got home yesterday evening. I had no idea how nice Norwich is, I expected it to be full of 1960s and 70s grey buildings and full of chain restaurants and shops. Although there are parts like that, we mainly kept to the old part of the city centre, with cobbled lanes and independent shops and cafés. The old buildings were so interesting to look at and this part of town had such a nice character.

On Tuesday morning, we wandered down to the cathedral, which was enormous and one of the most beautiful cathedrals I've seen.

We spent the rest of the day exploring the town and by the evening we were pretty hungry. After walking around for a very long time we decided the go in Pinocchio's Restaurant on St Benedicts Street. It described itself as a Mediterranean Brasserie and the food mainly focus' on an Italian theme.

I ordered the burger, which had an Italian twist as the beef patty was accompanied by pancetta, taleggio and salsa verde.

I hadn't had taleggio before, which is an Italian cheese that has a consistency when melted that reminded me a bit of melted mozzarella but with a more pungent flavour. I'm not a huge cheese lover so I found there to be a bit much, but it was interesting having something a bit different to the usual cheddar you get in burgers. Salsa verde is a sauce made up of ingredients like parsley and vinegar and compliments meat well. It was quite strong and there was a tad too much of it in this burger for my liking but overall it was a really good burger.

It was nice to have a slightly different version of something I always have and the triple-cooked chips it was served with were really good.

My parents both had pasta dishes - tagliatelle carbonara and pappardelle with spicy lamb ragu, both of which were delicious.

My sister had a lamb dish served with bulgur wheat in a pomegranate sauce (I thought it was horrible but she thought it was one of the best meals she's ever had).

Earlier in the day I had decided against getting an ice cream and planned on having dessert with dinner instead, and I'm glad I did!

I had the salted caramel filo crisp with white peaches. Salted caramel mousse sandwiched between two layers of crispy pastry filled with nuts and topped with slices of white peach. It was a combination I've never had before and it was very tasty.

The salted caramel mousse was particularly good! I wish it was served with a scoop of ice cream or some extra sauce but I still enjoyed it and I would definitely have it again.

My mum had the tiramisu which she enjoyed.

Overall we had a lovely meal and the service was great. If I was going back to Norwich for a couple of days I would probably find somewhere else to try out but if I lived in Norwich I would definitely go back there.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Mid Year Resolution

If you regularly read my blog you will know that I have posted very infrequently over the last month or so. I have been quite busy, as since I've been home for the summer holidays I've worked on average five days a week in a hotel restaurant, mainly doing breakfast shifts, which means lots of early starts. Although I am usually a morning person, not having an option to wake up when I want most days has taken it out of me and I feel like I've been zapped of any energy. (I don't want to sound too moan-y because I do enjoy my job and I definitely need the money!)  My general tiredness and mood of the past few weeks has made me completely lose interest in blogging. Because all I've done in the last few weeks is work and exercise (I'm on a bit of a get-fit mission) I haven't really eaten out anywhere interesting and I haven't cooked anything blog-worthy either.
I'm currently in Norwich for a few days (this is as exciting as my summer travelling will get) for a bit of a mini-break and I've already eaten at a few really nice places that I just have not been interested in blogging about. I think this is a shame as I used to really enjoy writing posts so I have decided to make a mid year resolution to write at least one blog post a week. Hopefully writing this in a post will mean that I won't break my resolution and it will give me something to look forward to each week. Also it might make me do more than just work and go to the gym if I think I can make plans to go out somewhere I could blog about.
I'm determined to keep my promise to myself and to recapture my passion for food and enjoyment of blogging!
If you live around or are visiting Norwich then first of all, lucky you! I never realised how lovely Norwich is and there are so many places to eat! I wish I could stay for longer so I could visit more places. Second of all, I thought I would list the places I've visited so far that, although I unfortunately didn't take pictures of,  I recommend.
Number 12 Norwich - a pub-type place, that although didn't have the greatest or most stylish interior, was relaxed and served really delicious food. I had the ribs and they were SO GOOD. I don't think I spoke for the whole time when I was eating (a rarity for me) because I was so entranced by the barbecue-y goodness. Also, the service was really excellent.
Casa Pato - a Spanish restaurant with a small but incredibly delicious menu. I had the Serrano ham, tomato and olive oil bocadilla (sandwich) which was perfect for lunch time, and lucky for me I got to try some of the meat paella on one of the tapas boards which was really flavoursome and filling. Again, the service was great and they also made perfect coffee (no coffee is as good as Spanish coffee)!

Pandora's Kitchen - a lovely café. We only stopped for a drink but the cakes etc. on show in the window looked very nice. They had a wide variety of teas and yet again, the service was excellent. Everyone in Norwich seems so friendly!

As I'm staying in the city centre, everywhere I visit is close by, and its been lovely to wander through the cobbled lanes checking out the endless amount of cafés and restaurants. I've got a few posts from Norwich which I'll put up over the next week or so that I've planned since making my mid year resolution, but for now I need to get ready to go out to dinner!